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November 18, 2011 > Stamps: Doors to our world

Stamps: Doors to our world

Submitted By Albert J. Vizinho
Photos By Steven D. Mazliach

Editor's Note: Fremont resident Albert J. Vizinho recounts his life-long love of stamp collecting in this personal essay.


National Geographic Magazine fed my fascination with this world, its peoples, countries and histories. At about age ten, stamp collecting further added to my interest and curiosity.

Let me focus on my stamp-collecting hobby. My first album was one from the 1940's with the names of countries that no longer existed as independent entities at that time: Montenegro, Croatia and the other members of the former Yugoslavia; Danzig, Tanu Tuva, Manchukuo, etc. I wondered about these places and always hoped to find stamps from these faraway places.

I did acquire stamps, both by purchase and by trading, of many countries that existed then as they do today. They showed kings and queens, emperors and emirs, flora and fauna, presidents and prime ministers, monuments and mountains. What a motivation for a kid to wonder about these people, places and things!

This led to the public library to find out more about these countries and also to check out the fat stamp catalogs available. Hours were spent reading and also paging through the catalogs to see if I had any "priceless" stamps. For the most part, a three-cent stamp in my album was worth just that; but I was never discouraged. My interest in stamps continued into young adulthood. I continued saving stamps even after my interest flagged. A new door opened for me: travel.

While still in college, I made my first trip to Europe with special interest in visiting Portugal, my parents' country of origin. I had to see this country that I had heard so much about and from which I had accumulated so many postage stamps. In the years that followed, I have been able to visit many of those countries that I first learned about from my stamp album: Brazil and most of its neighbors; Egypt, the former Tanganyika now called Tanzania, Kenya, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, India, Tibet, Bhutan, Turkey and so many other names to which I was introduced by those small pieces of paper: postage stamps.

I am fortunate, despite my almost three quarters of a century, to continue to learn more about those faraway places. My wish list of places to visit seems to grow rather than diminish: Tunisia, Libya, and return visits to some of the countries that have left me wanting to experience more. Stamps have helped enrich my life, as I never imagined they could.

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